Keep your home safe and avoid costly repairs by learning which home repairs you can’t postpone.

When you own a house, there is always something that needs to be fixed.  It might be a cracked molding board or the the faucet in the kitchen sink might be leaking and just need to have a new washer installed.  Some repairs can be put off for a little while, but there are those home repairs you can’t postpone because they can cause more damage and the longer you wait, the higher the cost will be.  The following home repairs are those that should never be ignored and need to be fixed immediately.

Drainage Issues

If you see water pooling up outside around the house, it is best to find out why and correct the issue.  Standing water can easily get into the basement and then you have rot and mold issues that cost thousands of dollars to fix.  next time it rains, check the down spouts and gutters.  If water leaks from the gutters, they might just need a simple cleaning to fix the problem.  Downspouts should drain 10 feet away from the house.  If the downspouts release water from the gutters at the foundation of the house, go to the hardware store and get extenders. Some extenders are made of a flexible material that roll up under the downspout when not in use, but expand and unroll out 10 feet when water goes down the downspout and fills them up. Make sure the gutter and downspout does not have any breaks and that they are well connected. If not, water can get down under the siding and cause rot. If pooling water is not a result of gutter or downspout failure, look at the landscape. Is there too much mulch or top soil near the foundation that creates a dam around the perimeter of the house that makes a mini-moat?  Pull the soil and mulch away to stop the problem.  It is important that the earth slope away from the house at 6 inches of slope per every 10 horizontal feet.  If not, you might have to truck in dirt and re-grade the entire lawn.

Water Damage

There are other types of water damage besides water coming in from the outside.  Any water leaks should be taken care of as soon as possible to avoid mold and other costly issues.  Your toilet or tub might start to leak or your roof might get a small hole in it.  Leaking water can rot wood and cause extreme damage to a home.  It not only creates the chance of dangerous mold, but left alone, it can make the structure of the house compromised.  It isn’t good for your bathtub to fall into the kitchen at any time!  If you see water marks on the ceiling or water standing on the floor, take action.  It might be something as simple as replacing a seal or fixing cracks in caulk or grout.  Also watch for mold on the floor, in cracks and on the ceiling.

Ventilation

Proper ventilation in attics and crawl spaces is essential and if something happens to impede this ventilation, you are looking at an expensive fix if you don’t get to it soon.  Inspect the attic or crawl space annually.  If it smells musty or moldy, look for that mold.  If the vents or screens are clogged with dust and debris, clean them out.  If you have a continuous problem in the attic, install a fan controlled by a humidistat and a thermostat.  Without ventilation, temperatures get much hotter than the outside air.  The roof starts to cook and shingles deteriorate quickly.  A 20-year roof might last a fraction of the time.  If you live in a cold climate, attic ventilation is imperative.  Without it ice can form under the eaves and actually lift the roof up to allow leaking water at the ceiling in the spring.

Foundation Cracks

Small cracks might not be a big problem, but you have to watch those big cracks.  If you can push a number 2 pencil into a crack, you have a problem.  Any crack in the foundation wider than 3/16 of an inch needs to be fixed as soon as possible.  The foundation is the main support to your home.  Any damage can be catastrophic.  Water can leak inside through cracks and pest can gain access to your home.  You may need a consultation with an engineer or contractor to see if the crack can be fixed or if the foundation needs to be shored up or repaired.

Septic Systems

If you have a well, you have a septic system.  This system takes human waste and guides it into an underground tank.  The solids sink to the bottom of this tank and liquid is released to an underground leach field made of gravel and dirt.  The solids need to be removed professionally every two to three years.  If the tank gets clogged of full, the liquid can’t release correctly and some of the solids can get into the leach field. Once that happens, you have big problems because you can never use that leach field again.  You will most likely need a new septic system and a new location for everything.  It all has to be dug up and replaced.  If you see soggy land near the leach field or smell a funky stink outside near the tank, you need to call for help immediately.

Pests

If you see a mouse run across your floor, don’t just put out a trap and forget about it.  Where there is one mouse, there are many more.  You need to find where they are getting in and plug up the hole.  Look around the foundation and around basement windows. Search behind landscaping, where the floor meets the walls in every room and in ceilings.  Rodents just need a tiny space to get in.  Make sure attic screens are intact and keeping squirrels out.  Rodents can chew through roofing and create leaks and they can chew through electrical wire, which can cause a fire.  Termites and carpenter ants are other pests that cannot be ignored.  They can go through the wood in your home in no time and render it structurally dangerous.  Look for rotted wood at the top of the foundation or for little piles of sawdust around base boards.  Get an exterminator as soon as you can.

These are the top most home repairs you can’t postpone.  Take care of them right away to keep the house safe and avoid costly bills.

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